Swordmaking and the Meaning of Life

For those who make knives or swords, you know that there is a process in forging a blade called “annealing” in which the blade to-be is heated to a very hot heat..then plunged into a cool liquid, either oil or water in an act called “quenching”. This is perhaps one of the most critical events in the birth of a sword because this hot to sudden cool action, creates great stress on the metal and if there are impurities in the metal, it can crack.

In your life, you may go through many tests…many events that put enormous stress on you. If you can survive them and emerge on the other side intact, you may be a stronger person for the experience…but, if you do not, it can cause you, like the blade, to crack.

Sometimes, there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to why bad things happen to good people. Car wrecks, crimes, diseases, and much more, can happen to folks who seemed to do nothing to deserve them. People get lung cancer who never used tobacco products..people can get maimed in car wrecks where they had no fault in the accident. Criminals attack and harm people every day, people who are decent, kind, loving people.

People WANT a reason…they WANT the world to make SOME kind of sense. For many people, the worst of all possible worlds would be one ruled only by chaos. So, these people may claim that the bad things that happen to people are the result of some “secret sin”. I hate this kind of thinking because it victimizes and stigmatizes the victim. Some times, it seems that people just happen to be at the “wrong place at the wrong time”. Those who missed flying on 911 and survived it…some just had a bad feeling about flying that day, or perhaps events intervened that kept them from being aboard the hijacked planes.

I don’t claim to have the answers. I remember someone saying once that when you have something terrible happen to you, if you ask “Why Me?”….ask “Why NOT me?” meaning, is any one of us so special that we should be immune from
bad luck.

I know lots of people who are going through a lot of bad things right now…good people who try to help others. It seems unfair, unless you assume that there IS no “fairness” in life…that bad or good luck is apportioned in proportion to your good or bad deeds.

I watched the movie SNOWPIERCER last night. It’s a post apocalyptic tale in which people are living in a world that has frozen over, and they are on a never ending train trip. The people at the back of the train live in horrible conditions …eating “protein bars” made of insects, while those who live at the front of the train…live in opulence and luxury. After watching the movie, my wife and I were asking, in the movie, why do some people on that train live in horrible poverty and deprivation, while others live a life of pleasure and abundance. Whatever the answer to that question is, we could apply it to the real world, because, instead of being on a train, we are on a satellite flying around a blazing star…and in reality, many live lives of misery while others, live in luxury.

So, I’ve decided that there is no good answer to why bad things happen to good people, nor why good things happen to bad people. It is what it is.  I know that’s fatalistic, perhaps nihilistic, but right now, it seems to be the only answer that comes up. The dice are tossed, and you might get a winning combination or a losing one, but it makes no sense to ask over and over, why did it go like it did. People try to analyze what went wrong because humans like to think that by figuring out what we did “wrong”, that we can avoid having the same bad outcome in the future. But, again, although there are things that people are doing wrong over and over, things which lead to bad outcomes, often, the worst things that happen to you, did not result from anything you did or failed to do…they just happened because you were there for them to happen to.



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